We all lose people, but that doesn’t make it any easier. We all go through changes that feel devastating and hurt deeply. We all feel pain regularly, whether we show it or not.
This year has been a hard year for me, in more ways than one. I lost two people personally, one to suicide. Two of my siblings from foster care moved away after more than a year with us. So many people around me lost people as well and I saw their pain. Little things have been adding stress to my day to day life, even though most of them are good. I’m getting ready to leave for college next year. I was a counselor in training at a camp for four weeks this summer. I was moved to a position of leadership in a discipleship team. All good things, but for some reason, very hard.
I have struggled with my feelings through all of this. (Yes, this is going to be a post about feelings – but I think it’s important to talk about) When leaving for college feels overwhelming, I think I’m doing something wrong. Surely I should be excited about such a big step! When I don’t want to go to work, I think that I’m feeling the wrong thing: there’s no reason to be frustrated, I’ve got to earn money somehow. When I lost someone to suicide, I didn’t think it should hurt as much as it did. Other people were closer to him.
Through this year, I have learned an important lesson: This world is wrong. And it’s okay to feel that.
When Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, sin entered the world, bringing with it death and pain. Those things have not left since then. They’re still here. We’re surrounded by the results of the fall every day of our lives and sometimes it makes us cry. Sometimes we long for Heaven not because we want to see God, but because we want to escape the pain. I know. I’ve felt that this year more than ever.
But then we might think that we need to be stronger than this. We’re supposed to have a hope within us, right? We’re supposed to lean on God and He will take care of our anxieties. He will give us strength to overcome the hurt and the struggles.
It’s easy to fall into thinking that we aren’t supposed to feel this much pain, for some reason or another. Maybe we need to put on a good face to the other believers around us. Maybe we think the tears hurt our witness that God is stronger than sin. Whatever the reason, it’s not true.
Have you ever seen someone try to cover up their pain? You hurt for them and you want to tell them that it’s okay, they can feel these things. Well, it’s time for us to tell ourselves that too. We don’t need to be stronger than the tears and the hurt. It’s not healthy to try to fight through on our own. It is healthy to share the pain.
When we pour out our hearts to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we feel better. Maybe not right away, but we have shared our burden, as the church is called to do. They may not have answers for us – in fact, they often don’t. We don’t understand why we’re allowed to suffer so much. But they can grieve with us and point us to Christ. And that’s what we need. We don’t need someone to say that it’ll all work out in the end and tell us to pull ourselves up by our boot straps. We need a fellow human to share our hurt and just be with us, knowing that we struggle and don’t understand, but staying anyway.
It’s not always easy to share what hurts so much with the people around us. Especially when we want to keep up appearances. I plastered on a “sad smile” when I told people about my friend’s death. A few times, that fake strength gave way to real tears and real questioning, and my family in Christ did not seem to mind. They prayed for me and encouraged me. They cried with me. It turned out that even though it hurt, many of them wanted to share my burden.
So please don’t bury your pain. This world is wrong, we all know. And we’re here to both rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). There is a better world coming. I know we can’t always see it or feel the joy that we think we’re supposed to exude as believers. And that’s okay. Keep suffering, friend. The church is here for you.